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User Name Thread Name Subject Posted
Spleen Cringe A Little Free Advise for Independent CD (68* d) RE: A Little Free Advise for Independent CD 25 Sep 12

Some of the releases on my label have been recorded in studios, some have been recorded at home, some have been recorded in random interesting acoustic spaces. The key, regardless of the environment, seems to be the use of quality mikes, good mike placement, someone involved in the process who has magic ears and who knows how to use the equipment (whether it is a band member with these skills or a sound engineer). Great care at the mixing and mastering stages also help.

I'm not convinced most people would be able to identify the circumstances of the recording of the albums I've put out on my label with a massive degree of accuracy. But I do think without the intervention of someone with decent ears and recording/mixing skills things won't be as good as they could be.

I also know there are plenty of albums out there that have been professionally recorded and produced that I can't listen to more than a few minutes of without reaching for the off switch. I'm talking about the sound not the content - they probably tick all Mick's boxes, but they sound horrible and overproduced and soulless. Give me a lo-fi recording like the C Joynes & Stephanie Hladowski album Matt cites any day. Or the early Bert Jansch albums that Bill Leader recorded in his home - Bill's ears played a far more important role than all the state of the art studio wizardry in the world. Or Bright Phoebus - again cited above - which was recorded in a temporary studio space set up in the bowels of Cecil Sharp House. The list goes on.

I also think that we live in the beginning of the post-music-industry era, where:

1) access to decent mikes and recording equipment and the opportunity to learn how to use them effectively is not beyond the reach of ordinary people;

2) there is an all out assault on the old models of how the biz works at least in part fuelled by the explosion of piracy and the massive shift in assumptions about how music is consumed and what it is worth;

3) many talented people are making excellent music that is not all about pandering to commercial considerations, record industry priorities or the primacy of hitmaking (or whatever the equivalent is in minority genres) - combining music making with the day job is increasingly the norm. Amateur does not necessarily mean inferior anymore.

The world of the big business model of creating music and the expectation that those working in minority genres emulate that model is increasingly looking like the dinosaur in the room. I don't entirely know what the answer is, but I think self-releases, cottage industry labels, fan-funded releases, low-level, widespread co-operation and the end of showbiz assumptions has to be part of it.

In my humble opinion as the honcho of a part-time, spare-room record, cottage industry record label (with a slew of critically acclaimed releases) of course.

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